The butter did it. It’s what got me hooked. Fancy butter, the kind that’s been aged a bit, generously salted and churned, not centrifuge extracted; the expensive kind. Walking into a bakery, it’s immediately evident if good butter being used. The scent is on the air. It smells rich and lush and raises the hair on your arms. These days in New Orleans you can trip over the number of bakeries using fine ingredients. We’re spending our dough on these.
In a recently renovated church, chef Kelly Mayhew turns out baguettes that are deep-crusted and lofty at once; his assistant baker, Jess, is known for her stunning ginger cookies. Swirl breads filled with vegetables, fruit pies (seasonal), dark-chocolate tarts, crisp-creamy canalés and more.
Levee Baking Co.
In the Garden District, chef Christina Balzebre and team are baking sourdough from fresh-milled grains, cheesy rosemary-and-roasted garlic scones, heirloom-cornmeal jam tarts and possibly the most lovely lemon-berry poppy seed loaf, ever.
La Petite Sophie
It’s worth the trek to seek out to Jefferson for Jeff and Lya Becnel’s stunning kouign-amann (buttery, sugary, layered Breton pastry), insanely flaky croissants (order the Everything with scallion-cream cheese filling), brioche feuilletée, carrot cake of dreams and fruity “pop tartes.”
tM Breads and Pastries
Tucked amid tall buildings in the Central Business District, this excellent bakery has pretty pastries (lemon meringue tarts, apple Danish, donuts), tender quick breads and cakes. The crackly, sugary palmier (aka elephant ears) and the breads deserve your love and attention.